Clayton did not care to tell Natalie of Chris's flight. She would learn it soon
enough, he knew, and he felt unwilling to discuss the affair as Natalie would want
to discuss it. Not that he cared about Chris, but he had begun to feel a protective
interest in Audrey Valentine, an interest that had in it a curious aversion to
hearing her name in connection with Chris's sordid story.
He and Natalie met rarely in the next few days. He dined frequently at his club
with men connected in various ways with the new enterprise, and transacted an
enormous amount of business over the dinner or luncheon table. Natalie's door
was always closed on those occasions when he returned, and he felt that with
the stubbornness characteristic of her she was still harboring resentment against
him for what he had said at the hospital.
He knew she was spending most of her days at Linndale, and he had a vague
idea that she and Rodney together had been elaborating still further on the plans
for the house. It was the furtiveness of it rather than the fact itself that troubled
him. He was open and straightforward himself. Why couldn't Natalie be frank with
It was Mrs. Haverford, punctually paying her dinner-call in an age which exacts
dinner-calls no longer - even from its bachelors - who brought Natalie the news of
Chris's going. Natalie, who went down to see her with a mental protest, found her
at a drawing-room window, making violent signals at somebody without, and was
unable to conceal her amazement.
"It's Delight," explained Mrs. Haverford. "She's driving me round. She won't come
in, and she's forgotten her fur coat. And it's simply bitter outside. Well, my dear,
how are you?"
Natalie was well, and said so. She was conscious that Mrs. Haverford was
listening with only half an ear, and indeed, a moment later she had risen again
and hurried to the window.
"Natalie!" she cried. "Do come and watch. She's turning the car. We do think she
drives wonderfully. Only a few days, too."
"Why won't she come in?"
"I'm sure I don't know. Unless she is afraid Graham may be here."
"What in the world has Graham got to do with it?" Natalie's voice was faintly
"I was going to ask you that, Natalie. Have they quarreled, or anything?"
"I don't think they meet at all, do they?"
"They met once since Clayton gave Doctor Haverford the car. Graham helped
her when she had got into a ditch, I believe. And I thought perhaps they had
quarreled about something."
"That would imply a degree of intimacy that hardly exists, does it?" Natalie said,
But Mrs. Haverford had not fought the verbal battles of the parish for twenty
years in vain.
"It was the day of that unfortunate incident at the country club, Natalie."